It’s interesting how there can be food trends just as much as there are music and clothing trends. It shouldn’t be surprising that foods go in and out of fashion but it’s a little easier to forget that this should be so–unlike old styles of clothing, recipes that are no longer popular don’t leave so much of a visual imprint. Similarly, you can easily be reminded of past music trends by tuning your radio. Meanwhile if you happen across a really old cake, you probably would be best advised NOT to try it!
You’ll have to take the old recipe and actually bake it to see what it’s like. Or get Nick Malgieri to sift through some old cookbooks and modernize the recipe for you. That’s how this very retro recipe for a blackberry jam cake made it into the Modern Baker, and thus became part of the Modern Baker Challenge!
Being a big fan of blackberries, I had my eye on this one, though I hardly knew what to expect from it. What’s different is that you add the jam directly to the batter–it’s not a cake with a jelly-jam center, or layers of cake sandwiched together by a layer of preserves.
Adding the jam was actually pretty fun. First it looks like peanut butter and jelly swirled together. That tan color is not from peanuts, however, but rather cocoa powder.
Then it gets blended to a bright but deep purple color. You can’t see how bright from this photo, unfortunately, but I can tell you, you don’t often get a batter this color.
The cake was truly unique. The flavor was almost like a gingerbread–probably thanks not just to the jam but also to the combination of spices. It’s different, without being too different, even the unadventurous can dig in. Everyone who I had try it felt it was familiar, but couldn’t put their finger on exactly why. This gave me plenty of opportunities to explain that blackberry jam (and cocoa powder) was the secret ingredient! Everyone also enjoyed it, no one more than little E, who was nearly desperate for it.